In honor of Father's Day, the Ad Council has released new PSAs in its effort to encourage fathers to "Take Time to Be a Dad Today." The new ads are the latest in a 15-year campaign created pro bono by Campbell Ewald, Warren, Mich., to inspire fathers to be more involved in their children's lives.
"It's been a wonderful ride," says Campbell Ewald Chairman-CEO Bill Ludwig, who has worked on the campaign since its first year. "From the very beginning, we hit on an insight that we call 'Inform and inspire.' It's really our approach to public service advertising.
"Most of the PSAs at the time [when this campaign was launched] were talking about littering, automotive safety," he says. "They relied on statistics. We thought it was more important to inform and inspire people to action."
Among the Responsible Fatherhood campaign's most memorable spots was one dubbed "Cheerleader," showing a father running through his grade-school daughter's cheerleading routine. The spot won a Bronze Lion at the 2009 Cannes Ad Festival and inspired its own Facebook page.
The latest ads, a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families Office of Family Assistance and the Ad Council, include TV, radio, outdoor and Web PSAs. Keeping with the Responsible Fatherhood tack established in 2008 that highlights different segments of the population each year, this year's PSAs focus on Hispanic fathers and military dads sharing small moments with their children. New Spanish-language TV, radio and outdoor PSAs were developed in collaboration with the Hispanic Communications Network.
One TV spot that emphasizes military dads, for example, shows a reunion between a military father and his daughter, as he surprises her in her classroom.
"I love that spot," Ludwig says. "I love how she goes from surprise to tears so quickly. It's so simple. I have to applaud the creative team."
The PSAs direct fathers to the website www.fatherhood.gov or to call a toll-free phone number (877-4DAD411) for information on fatherhood programs, resources and tips, such as sending children a text message for no reason at all, or to eat meals with one's family.
U.S. Census Bureau figures show that 24 million children in the U.S., or 34%, live apart from their fathers. At the same time, children who live without a father are two to three times more likely to have educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems than children who live with their parents, according to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.
"It's very daunting to be a parent," Ludwig says. "Through our quality of life insight that we acquired there, we wanted to inspire them be better fathers -- [tell them] that it's the small moments that matter. It's very simple things you can do in your day to be a better dad."
This year's campaign also includes a second series of PSAs developed in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios that feature animated characters from the movie "The Lion King" and tell fathers to play their part in "the circle of life."
Since it started, the campaign has received nearly $123 million in donated media.